A new mission for Starbucks


On Monday, Starbucks chief executive officer Laxman Narasimhan unveiled Starbucks new mission and brand promises. Read on for the story behind it. 

Our Mission
With every cup,
with every conversation,
with every community–
we nurture the limitless possibilities of human connection

For the first two decades of Starbucks history, the company only had a handful of stores, all within driving distance of one another, and the ethos of the company mostly was shared by word-of-mouth. But by 1990, the company had grown from the Pacific Northwest to Chicago and Vancouver, Canada, with plans to open new stores in California and the East Coast.

Starbucks leaders at that time gathered at an offsite retreat to draft the company’s first mission statement. More than a roadmap, they wanted to articulate not only where they wanted to go, but also how they were going to get there. The result was an ambitious vision that seemed almost fantastical for a little company of only 75 espresso bars: “To establish Starbucks as the premier purveyor of the finest coffee in the world while maintaining our uncompromising principles as we grow.”

That bold, inaugural aspiration to build a different kind of company was supported by guiding principles that put people first and profits last. Their words became touchstones as the company opened thousands of stores in neighborhoods across the country and eventually around the world. The mission and principles became part of a shared language, an expression of the company’s foundational values and a commitment to one other.

Over the years, Starbucks has continually recast its mission and principles to adapt to the changing needs of partners, the business, and the world outside. In 2008, during a transformative gathering of 10,000 store managers for the Leadership Conference in New Orleans, Starbucks unveiled what has become known as Our Starbucks Mission: “To nurture and inspire the human spirit – one person, one cup, one neighborhood at a time.” In 2014, Starbucks mission’s guiding principles were updated with a set of values underscored by a commitment to be “performance-driven through the lens of humanity.”

A new moment. A new mission.

In March 2023, Laxman Narasimhan took over the reins as Starbucks ceo following a unique six-month immersion unlike any other in Starbucks history. As he charts a new course for the company during an unprecedented time, he is unveiling a new mission that serves as an homage to Starbucks past, while evolving toward a new future. The mission is simple: “With every cup, with every conversation, with every community – we nurture the limitless possibilities of human connection.”

This new mission recognizes that connection is a fundamental human need. Study after study indicates high rates of loneliness as a public health concern, and there’s a desperate need for togetherness. Now, human connection is expressly part of the company’s mission. It also expands its sphere from “neighborhoods” to “communities,” inviting people in both stores and digital spaces to be part of the conversation.

“We live in a world that is highly disconnected, there's just a desperate need for togetherness. Loneliness, division and polarization have become far too common,” Narasimhan said. “The everyday ritual of coffee is a powerful way to connect – with yourself and with others. With our global community of trusted green-apron partners, amplified by our beloved brand and digital experiences, we are uniquely positioned for this moment.”

Underpinning the mission are a set of six promises for key Starbucks stakeholders, including partners, customers, farmers, communities, the environment and shareholders. Each of the six new promises is interrelated and interchangeable, ensuring mutual success for all. Starbucks plans to collaborate with partners in the coming months to create a set of values to accompany the new mission and promises.

“Starbucks has always strived to be a different kind of company,” Narasimhan said. “The new mission links directly with this idea.”

Evolution of Starbucks Mission

1990

u003cpu003eFrom the inside cover of the first Starbucks Annual Shareholder Report, 1992u003c/pu003e

Starbucks first mission statement, in 1990, guided the company for nearly two decades as it grew from fewer than 100 stores to more than 16,000.

Starbucks Mission Statement and Guiding Principles
Establish Starbucks as the premier purveyor of the finest coffee in the world while maintaining our uncompromising principles as we grow.

The following guiding principles will help us measure the appropriateness of our decisions:

  • Provide a great work environment and treat each other with respect and dignity.
  • Embrace diversity as an essential component in the way we do business.
  • Apply the highest standards of excellence to the purchasing, roasting, and fresh delivery of our coffee.
  • Develop enthusiastically satisfied customers all of the time.
  • Contribute positively to our communities and our environment.
  • Recognize that profitability is essential to our future success.

2008

u003cpu003eOur Starbucks Mission, 2008u003c/pu003e

Starbucks mission evolves to reflect a bold ambition during a time of transformation centered on the idea of coffee and connection. Six supporting principles declare its dedication to coffee, partners, customers, stores, neighborhoods and shareholders.

Our Starbucks Mission (2008-2023)
To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.

Here are the principles of how we live that every day:

Our Coffee: It has always been and will always be about quality. We’re passionate about ethically sourcing the finest coffee beans, roasting them with great care.

Our Partners: We’re called partners, because it’s not just a job, it’s our passion. Together, we embrace diversity to create a place where each of us can be ourselves. We always treat each other with respect and dignity. And we hold each other to that standard.

Our Customers: When we are fully engaged, we connect with, laugh with, and uplift the lives of our customers – even if just for a few moments. Sure, it starts with the promise of a perfectly made beverage, but our work goes far beyond that. It’s really about human connection.

Our Stores: When our customers feel this sense of belonging, our stores become a haven, a break from the worries outside, a place where you can meet with friends. It’s about enjoyment at the speed of life – sometimes slow and savored, sometimes faster. Always full of humanity.

Our Neighborhood: Every store is part of a community, and we take our responsibility to be good neighbors seriously. We want to be invited in wherever we do business. We can be a force for positive action – bringing together our partners, customers, and the community to contribute every day. Now we see that our responsibility – and our potential for good – is even larger. The world is looking to Starbucks to set the new standard, yet again. We will lead.

Our Shareholders: We know that as we deliver in each of these areas, we enjoy the kind of success that rewards our shareholders. We are fully accountable to get each of these elements right so that Starbucks – and everyone it touches – can endure and thrive.


2014

While the mission statement itself remained unchanged with the update in 2014, the supporting guiding principles were replaced by a set of values centered on partners, coffee and customers – and underscored by a commitment to being “performance-driven through the lens of humanity.”

Our Mission (2008-2023)
To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.

Our Values
With our partners, our coffee and our customers at our core, we live these values:

  • Creating a culture of warmth and belonging, where everyone is welcome.
  • Acting with courage, challenging the status quo and finding new ways to grow our company and each other.
  • Being present, connecting with transparency, dignity and respect.
  • Delivering our very best in all we do, holding ourselves accountable for results. We are performance driven, through the lens of humanity.

2023

u003cpu003eStarbucks Mission and Promises, 2023u003c/pu003e

Starbucks evolves its mission to focus on the limitless possibilities of human connection.

Our Mission
With every cup, with every conversation, with every community – we nurture the limitless possibilities of human connection.

Our Promise
The mutual success we collectively commit to:

Our partner promise: Bridge to a better future

Our customer promise: Uplift the everyday

Our farmer promise: Ensure the future of coffee for all

Our community promise: Contribute positively

Our environmental promise: Give more than we take

Our shareholder promise: Generate long-term returns

thumbnail for First-ever Starbucks North America Barista Championship is a celebration of our partners

First-ever Starbucks North America Barista Championship is a celebration of our partners